Category Archive '“That’s Why I Chose Yale”'

05 Feb 2010

“That’s Why I Chose Yale”

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Main courtyard Branford College, Yale University

The Yale University Undergraduate Admissions Office boasts of having set out to “reinvent the dull genre of admission videos… with something… a little different.”

That something turns out to be this generally lame and appalling, faux hip 16:49 musical video, produced in collaboration with undergraduates and recent alumni.

It is intended to appeal to today’s high school students as a take-off on the popular high school musical television series Glee, and was praised by one alumnus on the LinkedIn discussion as “clever, fun and effectively ma[king] the point, without being boringly traditional, pretentious or elitest. (sic)”

Of course, I am myself boringly traditional, pretentious and elitist, so my soul positively writhed in horror at the spectacle of a Yale education being marketed in bad rhymes on the basis of a strange combination of consumerism (a salad bar and grill, college laundramats and gyms), the collegiate architecture of James Gamble Rogers, conformist political correctness (4 “cultural houses,” a sustainable farm), and the mere quantity of organizations and activities.

Somehow or other, Yale’s distinctive identity, described by F. Scott Fitzgerald thusly:

I think of all Harvard men as sissies… and all Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes.”

I think of Princeton as being lazy and good-looking and aristocratic — you know, like a spring day. Harvard seems sort of indoors…

And Yale is November, crisp and energetic.”

was wholly overlooked.

Today’s young people are implicitly being expected to decide on their choice of college in much the way they would choose between holiday resorts or apartment complexes, purely on the basis of appearance and amenities. Yale today has no distinctive character or identity at all, it seems. The video has nearly 17 minutes of musical performances (of a sort), and no one ever sings “Bright College Years.”

It was not completely without its moments, however. Near the beginning a motley crowd, obviously made up of Yalies, is sitting there pretending to be parents and prospective students. A fashionably racially diverse admissions officer (played by Kobi Libii) is unctuously answering questions.

He answers an inquiry as to whether all Yale professors teach undergraduates in the affirmative, boasting that all tenured Yale professors teach undergraduates, so that even a freshman might be taking a class from a Nobel Prize winner. At that point, a wife goes “Oooo!” and elbows her husband, an Asperger type sporting a pocket protector, who blinks confusedly a few times in response and who (one strongly suspects) is, in fact, himself one of those very same faculty members just referred to.

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